The earth is crisscrossed with countless intersecting roadways, some similar and others vastly different. How one views these avenues, changes with experience and time. While on the streets of various places, one can learn about the culture, face one’s fears, and, as a result, grow as a person.
My previous travels inspired me to take a step out of my comfortable bounds and view, first hand, a different way of life closer to my own home. On a mission trip to inner city San Francisco with City Team Ministries (http://www.cityteam.org/), my teacher guided us along the streets of poverty, homelessness, and human trafficking. The fear of those men asking for money on street corners, and the disgust for women who sell themselves was replaced with a longing to help them. Wandering down that road was one of the most humbling experiences of my life, and has forever transformed how I perceive those seemingly terrifying streets. My experience in those crime filled streets pushed me to want to view even more differing cultures, in order to broaden my horizons and my understanding of the world.
During the summer of 2009, at seventeen, I found myself walking down the tight, packed streets of Jerusalem, Israel. I was there with an amazing group from Princess Cruises. Initially, I was intimidated, but through all my travels, I had learned that intimidation would soon give way to curiosity and eventually stepping out of my comfortable confines. Roadways there were bustling with people, food, and merchandise disparate from all that I had previously encountered. Days later, I left those bustling streets with a greater understanding of a religion and a culture so seemingly in conflict with my own. Not only did I begin to appreciate this culture more, but I also felt myself connected to the Israeli people, wanting to take part in their everyday lives. In so many ways, they were the same as my neighbors in the suburbs of the United States. Israel was a significant footfall on my ongoing roadway of life and learning.
Not only have these experiences changed how I view people I meet today, I have been forever changed. When I see someone with whom I am unacquainted, I smile, no longer afraid of differences. When in college, meeting new people of another background will not be intimidating, but an adventure. I will not be afraid to step out, and make new connections. My future in nursing will also be affected. Due to my experiences, I will be able to relate to my patients and have more empathy for each individual, thereby helping my patient in many ways.
I have been truly blessed to tread on some of the most beautiful and culturally varied thoroughfares and byways on earth. Each subsequent experience has furthered my understanding and acceptance of different cultures. Through each, I have gained a new perspective and furthered my own steps on the boulevard of my own life. I no longer see a person of a different ethnicity or culture and find them strange, instead, my interest is piqued and I am drawn to learn from them. My desire to interact with other cultures is ever growing.
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